Thursday, October 22, 2009


The wildlife in Florida is great - especially in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Reserve. In particular the birdlife is prolific. And so was my photographing of it! I took 902 photographs in a week. (I love digital photography. I would have needed 25 rolls of film for that lot!)
Out of the hundreds of pics I took, the above was one of my favourites.
I think it is a Great Blue Heron.
I managed to 'capture' it in flight. What I like about the picture is that you can really feel the combination of strength and control required by this bird to get airborne.
But there is also something strange to me about this picture although it is probably true of most photographs. A fleeting moment is frozen in time and something that was so full of life and movement becomes like a statue.
In life itself some moments are worth holding on to.
It reminded me of a song I heard many years ago from an Irish band called Picture House.

Moments Like These

Recall, return
Relive and learn
All of our memories
In summer nights
We've put it right
Tumbled down into it
I know they're only moments

But moments like these
Are so hard to come by

Some bridges burn
Some things we learn
By tumbling into it
Recall, re-learn
Relive, return
And all of our memories
Are nothing only moments

Light and Shade

I suppose one of the most important elements in photography is the use of contrast.
Taking a photograph (or rather 'making' a photograph, since there is usually some element of creativity involved) has often been described as 'capturing the light.' But, of course, that is only half the story. If it is all light and nothing else, there isn't much of a photograph. It's the contrast between the light and its reflections and shadows which make any picture worth looking at.
Talking of contrasts- last week my wife and I had the good fortune to be in Central Florida for a week. There was a heatwave! Not like the ones we occasionally have in Scotland in the summer-time when we have two or maybe even three consecutive days of sunshine with temperatures getting up to 80 degrees!
In Florida last week (mid-October, remember) temperatures throughout the whole week were in the 90's. Quite a contrast when we arrived in Manchester on Saturday to a temperature of just 42 degrees.
But in spite of the photograph above (taken at 6:39am when the air temperature was already in the mid 80's) we hadn't gone there just to find sunshine: the real reason for our visit was to spend time with two people (Ernest and Mary-Louise) who have been our friends and mentors for the last 35 years.
Which brings me to another contrast- to celebrate his 85th birthday, Ernest decided to go skydiving. There is absolutely no chance of me doing likewise - though I may consider it for my 125th birthday!

Friday, October 02, 2009


Look closely at the picture and you'll see the main reason that I haven't done any blogging lately. We welcomed 10 visitors from Dongkwang Church, Seoul, including their Senior Pastor, Rev. Chang Bin, to spend just over a week with us in Kirkton and formally create a congregational partnership through signing a Partnership Agreement.
One of my tasks for the week (apart from organising most of the visits and events) was to drive the minibus. [And it has taken me another week to recover!]
Among many other things, we had a great time visiting Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle, New Lanark, The David Livingstone Memorial in Blantyre. We were guided round the Scottish Parliament by our MSP, Karen Gillon, and welcomed by the Moderator of the General Assembly.
[I will gloss over the parking ticket I got in Edinburgh because our minibus was a bit too long for the parking space I had put it into... we'll wait and see how the appeal goes.]
But the highlights for me were the services of worship on the Sunday morning and evening and our "Scottish Evening" on the Tuesday night, which involved Scottish, food, music, dancing and lots of fun. In each of these instances many people in the congregation joined in which made the idea of a congregational partnership a reality.
I know from my own experience that Korean Presbyterian worship is quite a bit more formal than the style of worship we are accustomed to in Kirkton, so I knew that there would be a bit of culture-shock for our visitors- but the thing that really delighted me was walking into the church while people were still gathering and noticing two of the younger members of our church family (both about 6 years old) chatting away to some of our Korean visitors who I knew did not speak any English. It didn't seem to matter. The children got the message across... "Welcome to our family!"
The message was underlined during the service when we sang the song "Welcome Everbody it's good to see you here."
OK - it is hardly a liturgical (or even musical) classic but there was something very sincere and heart-warming in the way that the congregation sang it, and the visitors seemed to sense that too.
A few minutes before the service began I decided to make up another verse of the song (again - I know it is more doggerel than literature - but it worked.)
"Scotland and Korea are very far apart
but through the love of Jesus our partnership can start,
and as our friendship deepens we will be one in heart
gathering in this place."
Now if I could only learn a bit of Korean myself...